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Three Cheers for Folly, for if you don't give it, who will!
NOTHING HAS SUCH APPEAL AMONG SECULAR AND RELIGIOUS ALIKE, EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NOTHING IN IT
For another approach to gaining Sense from Nonsense, see
Deliverance from Disorientation Ch. 8,
For Relationship to Church Decline see Let God be God Ch. 8, including *1A
THE ADVANCE OF NOTHING, AND ITS TIMELY RETIREMENT
One day, nothing was feeling rather bored, for wherever it looked there was nothing in it. My way has fallen, it mused, into the sere, the yellow leaf - for nothing, you see, was a particularly erudite type of no thing, and could, in the modern way, do almost anything that something could do, provided the something had almost no limits. This is called science, and is very popular, though in fairness to some scientists, it must not be thought that all who use the term 'scientist' are of this persuasion, for there always exceptions, and these not a few.
It then began to act, having established itself in terms of momentous fluctuations in the fluctuatables that of course were not there, for nothing that is really nothing can be anywhere. Otherwise, it would be a thing in a place, with geometrical co-ordinates, and orders of being to enable the structure to operate in any way at all.
It cast about in the thought that was not there, to find some way to express the self that was not there. It soon found that one way to do this was to invent classically orderly things called atoms and inordinate energies associated with them, and it seemed good to nothing to have done this, and it reflected, although of course it was not there to reflect, that if it had only made use of the Stock Exchange before it was there - and since time is of no importance, nor cause, in this fairy tale, why not use what is not there ? - it could have done wonders and become very rich, for to produce energies in inordinate quantities is better than any insider trading exercise. It just comes ... out of nothing.
This done, although it could not be done, since there was nothing there to do it, it decided to start to express itself. It took a lot of other steps and then reflected. Therefore it said it had done this in days, although there were no days, for these are things, and nothing was what was there. Nevertheless, you get used to after a while, and do not look too closely at anything, in case you find something, which being no part of nothing, is only an embarrassment; and it thought to itself, which was not really a self, Why worry about it, just go on as in other fairy tales! and so it did this.
Then it thought that days, just plain days, the first and the second, which as a matter of fact it realised are always in this book, called the Bible, the nature of the case for the ordinal use, first , second and so on, would be too uninteresting. Why not say it had done it in Ages, but speak in terms of evenings, morning, action and consequence devotedly, so as to delude. . Ages don't usually have mornings, far less evenings with them, in terms of work, for if anything could be further from an Age, this is it, and if anything could be further from leading from creation to history, this is it. Indeed, it saw that to have Ages for days meant that the logical sequence for life to be mutually interactive as required for actual operation, would not work.
This seemed at first great, for it had nothing in the way of understanding; but in time, it saw that this all came to nothing, and since it was becoming allergic to the very word, too near to the bone, which of course was not there either, it decided to have days in its own expression of things, and said it had done all its works in days, but had meant Ages.
Yet since to seem logical is often important, and simple rebuttal from logic can be disturbing at times, and consistent testimony to the opposite of what it said was rather difficult, and people might talk about it, since there was nothing in it really, it got another idea. I meant Ages, indeed, it argued; and this sort of pulsation of thought could be called dialectical immaterialism, and so could help to qualify it for a Nobel Prize; and although as to that, it felt that there was nothing much in it, yet there might be something, so it did this. But people did not applaud this use of a phrase to substitute for its difficulties, although they love it in some spheres; and so Nothing, which was becoming bent on being something, decided to move. After all, there is no transportation cost at all, when there is nothing to be moved.
But where ?
Then it thought that it would never make the classic dignity of being original if it did not mean something obviously wholly contrary to the work on its inventions, without dipping too far into the absurd. So it decided and that to mean what it said in terms of the structure of creation would be as if nothing, if it did not move with the times and make something up which was incontestably not only underivable from the Biblical text, not only irrational, but quirkish. Thus it decided to have a framework approach. In this, days are not really days, but a framework for thought, a sort of analytical index, logical rather than chronological, and although logic is precisely what they lack, since this sort of flow does not actually work, yet these days would overlap, as if evening and morning did NOT make the second or third or other day.
In this way, the philosophy of negation would be interviewed on the spot, and the Reporters might make something of it and give Nothing a name, which, since it was really nothing at all, would be quite something. This is called the Ontological Advance, and Nothing now began to give itself a capital letter, which it thought quite capital, in the British manner.
However, the untidy relationship of logic to these ideas, led Nothing to make a new sally. Let us have Analogical Days, it thought - not that it could think, but fairy tales must never be other than in the realm of imagination, for otherwise what is the use of them! The realm of reality is there anyway, and you get no marks for dwelling there; for that is where it is, and how do you contribute if you keep to that! It was becoming avant-garde, and enjoying every moment of it, but it still had a vague feeling that while what it was doing was a work of nothing, fabrication, invention and misuse of the divine name, for it loved to fiddle with the Biblical Text in its own declaration, and that one day it might have to pay. Still it persevered, for Nothing has little in the way of conscience, and even if it did, there is no time for it to stay.
What then ? it thought. Where next will I move. Why, next thing one might become an old-fashioned scientist, and instead of living by hope of endless things you continually affirm, but which NEVER happen, where you would have no éclat at all, even if superficially applauded, you could return to reality. But that! it thought, that is always just for a few when it comes to God, for here man's social mind suffers bifurcation, and the more he insists on actuality in what is not God, the less he can stand it when it is what is God.
This being the way, it decided on having some éclat. Eclat being a nice sort of thing to have, it thought, it would go with the tide and have imagination run riot; for riots, when you are nothing, and even when you become Nothing, are really quite entertaining, it thought; and that is the sort of thing that can happen when Nothing gets bored. Many seem to follow this thinking.
Thus it decided that the evenings and mornings were there for a purpose after all, and that we were really getting somewhere by having days. Let's have days while there are any! it thought to itself. So it invented Analogical Days. These of course were not really days, and as to the mornings which even more of course, were not really mornings, and as to the work, it after all did not really happen like this, so this was fashionable and fictitious and an invention and without warrant and had the literary lapse position of the framework approach, but it was even better.
If that was cavalier about the days as days, this would dismiss them entirely, and yet persevere in using all the structure of days. In this way, it decided that concerning the Bible, it would say that it was all just set down to be informative and educational to man, as from some sophisticated Lecturer who, after giving an entire course, then tells his students that of course it is off course, and that none of the systematics he presented were really there.
Yes it would be like such a Lecturer: do you know what I have really been doing, he says at the end with a smirk: it was all an Analogical Exercise, in order to allow you to see how to think, if you did think on the basis of real things.
Indeed, Nothing became so enthusiastic, though it was really nothing to get excited about, that it began to muse as if it WERE a Lecturer, and its thoughts slid from prospect to expression. From nothing it had now become a maker, a thinker, a deceiver and a popularity seeker; which considering its lowly estate in the beginning, was quite something. It thought of thinking so, anyway, although since it was really nothing, it did not pursue this theme, but decided instead to muse on as if it were a Lecturer. It is only when it is impossible and in collision with reason and reality alike, it thought with an inner smile, that it is engaging! It began to present to its imaginary students.
Actuality is far too hard, and besides, who worries about it these days. This is the Generation of Disuse, and to use reason about what matters is not only boring, but blighting; and so I have introduced you, O Class, to the idea of ideas, which mean nothing at all, but what you make of them, and text, which means anything you care to hurl at it; and there is in the end, only one rule. Use your imagination, use forms which deny their very format, integrate fiction with history and history with detail, and show that for an educator you are most elusive, delusive and gratuitously intrusive speaker imaginable.
Look O Class, he continued, when you become something, you learn something. Do you know what that is ? It is this. If you ever want to get anywhere in this field, and not come to nothing, you have to do the irrational, the absurd, the quirkish, the intrusive, the utterly ludicrous, and become wholly uneducative in order that the experients, your students may learn to think for themselves.
My learning has been Analogical Learning and you have learnt an analogy to reality. One must admit in scholarly integrity, that you also learn not to think about the actual reality, by this exercise, and to learn that the first and foremost rule in all understanding, whether of text or actuality, expression or impression, is to do it your way. Never be bullied by reason or reality, but express yourselves; and when it comes to the word of God, always, using this, my approach, never take it to mean what in structure, context, sequence, reason and terminological usage, it says. If you do, I can tell you now, you will pass no exams. On the other hand, he frowned as he spoke, NEVER try that on in my chemistry class, for this is the other class of Science.
One student afterwards asked Nothing about this, for students felt that Nothing was really big time and insisted on delving into its thought, which of course was not really there; but that is what made it interesting to the students, and pleasant, since what it is not really there can be thought of in any way at all; and when thought of in any actual way, as if it were there, then you get into the quasi-real, which is a very delectable state, since you talk as if intelligently, but all the time control all the action, a thing satisfying to the sense of power.
Why, the student asked of Nothing, why do you have a precise way of presenting your discourse in sequentially emphatic ways, and with terminology used throughout in a consistent procedure to history, and all the time fail to be really informative, actually bringing in a fairy tale of what DID NOT happen in time, but only logically, in a manner which is NOT logical, since it defies reason, and why did you do all this in the name of God, when God is not nothing and you are ?
Nothing felt embarrassed at this, and after all, did not really like to take the name of the Lord in vain, so it packed up its papers and left the podium, which was not really there, though it is really there in many seminaries, and departed back to its primary state, which was nothing.
After all, as in all these cases, it had come to nothing.
You might say that there is nothing in all this. One could not agree more.
It is important to see that, however.
RETURN TO THE LORD AND HIS TIMELY TRUTH
When after this sojourn in fairyland, which of course can have appeal to some, and there have long been 'grave fairy tales' for the older ones, and such has even been their title, it is refreshing to return to the jot and tittle, and from what is almost the jocular, though it can go for the theological jugular, for all its intended piety, or wry solace without reason.
The face of God has the power to speak. When He speaks, it is NOT wreathed, contrived, casuistical or contrary, and He says so (Proverbs 8:8). He does not tell us, like some modern ultra-impressionist painter, some things in order to make us think of other things, not as a key to a puzzle, but as a puzzle for any key; so that having spoken, we are left without instruction. He is not a philosopher in his dotage, or an ardent lover in his cups.
If you ever would like to understand God, use reason and realism, not imaginative intrusion with the danger of libel in intruding your own thoughts and words into the constraints of context and elaborate safeguards against that very thing. What is contrary to reason and context is not what is meant. If it were word of God would become a suggestion box, and if there is one thing that is obvious in Genesis 1, or or other chapter, it is majestic, sovereignty, power and performance, the scope of actual terminology being integral in this and in later chapters, so that the vocabulary is not some flick of verbal paints, as some modern painters manage to claim to be art, but a consistent and reasonable ground for a concerted and constrained understanding.
The face of God is illimitable, but His word is definitive, decisive. As He says, He has exalted His word above all His name (Psalm 138:1-2).
"I will praise You with my whole heart;
Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name."
In Let God be God Ch. 8, there has been analysis in detail of the current, the contemporary trend in actually definably, though most erroneously, sanctioning anti-biblical teaching and relating it without warrant and contrary to textual warrant, by mere inclination, to the Bible. This may be well-intentioned - it is not for us to judge the motives of men - but it is delusive in type, contrary in detail and irrational in scope. All this has been shown.
It is necessary to avoid such troubadouring, for the word of God is clear to the one who understands, and the reason for that is that it is not historical vintage, but eternal truth and if you follow its ways, you avoid clashing now here, now there, either with what it does say, or forbids, or what it does not sanction. In the end, if you sanction what it does not, you are inventing; and if you call that the word of God, you are using His name in vain. If it is unintentional, God is merciful; but unwise is any who joins with such fealty to Apollo in the presence of God!
In these two chapters that have come onto our site, the above and Deliverance from Disorientation Ch. 8, we see the considerable relalationship between the secular and the ecclesiastical dyspepsias and intolerance of reason which have come into the fore of much modern thought; and as it all develops, and the interactions proliferate, it is amazing how the word of God is made void by their traditions. Is it not as in the day of Christ, as in Mark 7:6ff. ?
"This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men..."
Even history can be misread, as seen in Let God be God Ch. 8, and it is necessary to be more careful. In the end, whatever may be the modern motives in any particular case - and many have some weak point where culture has captured them, without necessarily being lost - to present imaginative irrationality in the name of the word of God, without warrant, and contrary to warrant, when it comes to ecclesiastical SANCTIONS, becomes a barrier to fellowship. Complicity is not the same as ignorant error; and what is seen, is not lightly to be disregarded.
What is most glorious as we see in the above Chapter and many like it, is this: that when you adhere with conscientious constraint to the text of the Bible, inventing nothing but being willing to be led anywhere it indicates, all is coherent, harmonious, reasonable, meets every demand, is verified as it transpires, is retrospectively verified as it is discovered, and forms part of the whole series of principles and declarations which meet every problem of logic, confusion of thought and prolixity of understanding which man makes. It is only then that nothing is left unresolved, no problem is left unanswered and in integrity for the text, integrity for thought is gained, and remains*1.
This is so with the text of Genesis*2, as shown in the reference above; it is so in prophecy, in the dicta on science, in the principles of wisdom, in the writing upon the wall, as the walls fall, and the halls of illusion collapse. The word of God remains pure, unruffled, rational, reliable, right; because it is God who has given us reason, and He had His reasons for it, and not least , was this: that we should join with Him in the light of loveliness, where truth is inescapable, love indispensable, joy in companionship unillusory and peace profound.
These are searching times, and the only sure rule and way is to adhere to the word of God, the text itself, and to the constraints of text and context, principles and rules given in the Bible itself, and NEVER TO INTRUDE any imagination into what is not warranted, just as you would not in anyone else's works, if you had deep respect. It is after all, one thing to INTERPRET Shakespeare; it is quite another to interpret your own thoughts which are stirred by what he wrote. These are different and legitimate disciples.
What is illegitimate, is to interpret what Shakespeare wrote, as your stated intention, and in doing so, to interpret your own thoughts which are stirred by what he wrote. This is more than fair to you, but less than right for Shakespeare.
Let each thinker say his piece; and let each writer be given integrity of force in being interpreted by nothing outside his own criteria; but let none have his name misused by those who put in their own admittedly unwarranted thoughts; and when it comes to God, this is to be infinitely avoided, for the misrepresentation would be of infinite significance. Let God be God, and man be man; and let there be no confusion about this.
CELESTIAL HARMONY FOR THE TERRESTRIAL HOST
REASON, REVELATION and the REDEEMER
The gods of naturalism have no go!
See also The Biblical Workman Ch. 7
SMR pp. 482ff.,
Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 9 (including Genesis 1-2),
The Desire of the Nations Ch. 2
SMR Ch. 2 Supplement, pp. S 1-34, esp. S4 ff.
Overflight ... Ch. 5
History, Review and Overview Ch. 5 with
Glow of Predestinative Power Ch.
History, Review and Overview Ch. 4;
cf. Life, what is it ? (on material expressions of super-natural qualities in creation)
Little Things Ch. 8, on perspective.
Bright Light ... Ch. 10 (John 1 and Genesis 1).